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Connecticut is well-known in the world of pizza. Much of this recognition is for the incredible pizza that can be found in New Haven. Many visits spawned an extensive guide to apizza in the city that was over 20 years in the making. After all of those visits, it sparked a deeper desire to explore pizza in other towns across the state. Sure, I had been to some spots in Waterbury, Stamford and Derby. But, I wanted to dig deeper into the Connecticut pizza rabbit hole. Enter Rossini’s, a local pizzeria and restaurant in Cheshire that dates back to 1979.
Immediately, the retro signage with the outline of Italy in the colors of the flag showed promise. Another clue was a group of three carrying out two pies and a large aluminum tray of food. As they left the restaurant,we heard how excited they were and a great aroma wafted out of those boxes. The first room is a take-out space with ovens visible behind the counter. Next to it, a large comfortable dining room made up of booths.
There was also something special about the cover of the menu. “Your hosts Ralph & Luigi,” written on the front gave off a family-owned and friendly vibe. As this was the first stop of an all-day pizza excursion, we decided to order a small original pie. Not only was the size more palatable, but the original had just a handful of ingredients. Shortly after we ordered, a nicely charred pie with tomato sauce and grated cheese arrived on a metal pan.
At first glance, it reminded us a bit of Ernie’s Pizzeria in New Haven. The sauce was chunky, topped with olive oil and plenty of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Several bubbles popped up across and there were bits of basil lightly scattered. This was a very satisfying pie, with a thin enough crust with nice crisp outside and good chewiness throughout. The grated hard cheese on top was a great contrast to the strong tomato flavor.
Although the pizza is excellent here, we were also intrigued by the other Italian dishes on offer. Since the day was strictly focused on pizza, we didn’t think twice. As we paid the check, the strong aroma of roasted garlic filled the dining room thanks to a couple of pasta dishes ordered at the table across from us. We were also greeted by Ralph as he was eating lunch at a nearby booth. He asked how we liked the pizza and we told him our positive thoughts.
We really have come to enjoy the simplicity of tomato pies in Connecticut. In fact, Ernie’s made us appreciate the classic tomato pie style. There is something about the combination of tangy tomato, hard cheese and olive oil that works so well. Mozzarella isn’t needed or missed at all. It is also much lighter, perfect for warm weather and conducive for sampling multiple pies across a day. This was an excellent first stop on what would be a banner day for pizza crawling in Connecticut.
Do you have any under the radar recommendations for pizza in Connecticut? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Rossini’s Italian Restaurant and Pizza
529 W Main St, Cheshire, CT 06410
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